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What Is Alzheimer?

What Is Alzheimer?

In order to understand the coloration between Alzheimer and Brain activities, we have to know about Alzheimer first.

What Is Alzheimer?

In Alzheimer's disease, more and more nerve cells are gradually dying off. Patients, therefore, suffer from memory loss and disorientation. We explain what happens in the brain. Our brain is very powerful: we can solve difficult problems and learn new things, we can think, feel and remember. This enables a complex network in our brain that consists of over 100 billion nerve cells. These are connected via contact points, the so-called synapses. Nerve cells (neurons) constantly process information and stimuli. This information is relayed by messenger substances from nerve cell to nerve cell and finally processed in the various areas of the brain.

Alzheimer's: What happens in the brain?

In Alzheimer's disease, the synapses are usually affected first. The communication between the neurons does not work properly - it comes to disturbances. Information can no longer be processed and forwarded. In the course of the disease whole nerve cells die off. This leads to a progressive decrease in mental abilities because the nerve cells in the brain can hardly renew. Once lost nerve cells cannot be replaced again. The nerve cell loss causes symptoms that affect the lifestyle of the patient.

Cause for Alzheimer's still unexplained

Alzheimer's disease, named after the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer, is very complex. What the exact cause of this brain destruction is, we do not know yet. But it is certain that two different protein deposits are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease: beta-amyloid plaques and tau fibrils.

Beta-amyloid and tau protein destroy nerve cells

Beta-amyloid (Aβ) is a naturally occurring protein in the body that results from a biochemical reaction from the amyloid precursor protein. In the healthy brain, the protein is easily split and broken down. In Alzheimer's disease, the degradation of the amyloid precursor protein changes. This results in so-called beta-amyloid proteins, which accumulate as toxic oligomers. These in turn clump and form the indissoluble deposits between the nerve cells, the so-called ß-amyloid plaques, also called Alzheimer's plaque. These can no longer be broken down by the body.

The tau protein is inside the cell. It forms parts of a structure called microtubules (tubes). These tubes help transport nutrients and other important substances from one part of the nerve cell to another. Tau proteins are responsible for the stability and nutrient supply of the cells. In Alzheimer's disease, the tau protein is chemically altered. This altered protein accumulates in the nerve cell and accumulates in the form of fibers called tau fibrils. The cells lose their shape, their functions and disintegrate.

The two protein deposits interfere with the communication in and between the nerve cells. As a result, nerve cells and nerve cell connections die over many years. Affected are the regions in the brain that are responsible for memory, thinking, language and orientation: the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus.

Incidentally, studies of brains after death have shown in studies that tau fibrils are more closely related to the clinical symptoms of Alzheimer's disease than senile plaques.

TIP: Prevent

Alzheimer's disease can not heal yet - the course can only be slowed down by drug treatment. Prevention can reduce the risk of dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease. These include a healthy diet and an active lifestyle that promotes cognitive skills.

Dementia and Alzheimer

Dementia does not stand for a specific disease. It is a sign of many illnesses that lead to a loss of mental capacity over the course of life. In the process, the memory and the ability to think diminish and people are impaired in their personal activities. Depending on the age of the person affected and the underlying disease, dementia can completely or partially regress. About two-thirds of all dementias are due to Alzheimer's disease. What causes dementia, who falls ill with her why is not yet clear. The doctor Alois Alzheimer discovered the disease more than 100 years ago.

The following functions of the brain may be disturbed in dementia:


Thinking and judgment


finding words

Other aspects of language (aphasias)


Moving and acting

Reading, writing and arithmetic

Drive and attention




Perception and processing


Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and results in a slow loss of mental capacity. At the beginning there is always the increasing forgetfulness. Alzheimer's dementia is a typical old-age disease. More than 95 percent of the disease begins after the age of 65, and with increasing age the incidence increases more and more.


Dementia has already become a common disease. About 1.2 million people with dementia live in Germany; Two-thirds of you are affected by Alzheimer's disease. Every year, almost 300,000 new cases occur. The number of people with dementia continues to increase as a result of population aging. Unless a breakthrough in prevention and therapy succeeds, the number of sicknesses will rise to about 2.6 million by 2050, according to projections of population growth. This represents an average increase in patient numbers of nearly 35,000 per year. For Germany and other European countries can be calculated that soon in every third family, an elderly member of the Alzheimer's dementia will have.

Avoid memory loss in old age

With age, the memory and thinking, orientation, comprehension, but also the ability to learn and to decide deteriorates. Methods of clinical neurophysiology make it possible to observe the brain activity underlying these symptoms. The findings of this and the means by which memory loss can be prevented, explained med. Otto W. Witte, Director of the Department of Neurology of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena

So far, there are no drugs that prevent dementia. However, around half could be avoided or at least influenced by preventing risks such as overweight, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in middle age, smoking, physical inactivity, depression or low levels of education. An up to 25 percent reduction in these modifiable risk factors would reduce the number of demented patients worldwide by around three million.


Do not neglect physical and mental activity

Physical inactivity probably causes every eighth dementia disease worldwide. Through sport, trophic factors are released in the brain that increase the ability to learn. The same applies to mental activity: a recent study has shown that video games improve cognitive flexibility in old age. Therefore, digital media do not have to contribute to dulling, but can also have positive effects.

Healthy night sleep anchors memory contents

It is now considered certain that sleep has a function in the anchoring of new memory contents. To what extent the sleep that is often disturbed in older people contributes to memory impairment is still unclear.

A happy and happy life affects the memory

This has not been systematically investigated. However, it is known that chronic depression has a negative impact on memory performance. Depression reduces the number of new nerve cells in the brain. The inflammatory activity in the brain also increases, which affects the memory.

A versatile education improves memory in old age

Various studies have shown that the better the multidimensional education in adolescence, the better the cognitive reserves in old age - and thus the duration of a good memory. The Humboldt educational ideal of a comprehensive education - not only of mathematics and science, but also of music and literature can therefore be beneficial for memory in old age.

Aging begins in the womb

High stress for the pregnant mother affects the memory of the child - especially in old age. However, there is one way to improve the subsequent memory performance: Especially in the early stages of development, infants and toddlers should receive a lot of attention. This has a lasting positive effect on the subsequent memory performance.

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